Tragedy strikes pilgrims to Amarnath, Kailash – Mansarovar

13 deaths; many stranded
Report by: 
4 Jul 2018

Tragedy seems to have struck pilgrims to Kailash – Mansarovar and Amarnath this year, with the total death toll in the two yatras mounting to 13. Of the dead, 10 were pilgrims on way to Amarnath. There were reports of three deaths among pilgrims to Kailash – Mansarovar. Besides, nearly 1,500 pilgrims to Kailash – Mansarovar got stuck high on the Tibet plateau because of bad weather, rescue efforts being slow, according to PTI reports.
Three pilgrims were killed on the Amarnath route in a landslide even as another died due to cardiac arrest, taking the death toll during this year's Amarnath Yatra to 10, officials said on Wednesday.
A rescue team recovered the body of Delhi resident Shailendra (30) from the landslide-hit area along the Baltal route of the pilgrimage during the day, a police official said.
He added that the bodies of two other pilgrims -- Jyoti Sharma (35) from Delhi and Ashok Mahto (51) from Bihar -- were recovered on Tuesday night.
Five others -- two pilgrims and three ponywallas -- were injured in the landslide, which was triggered by heavy rainfall between Railpatri and Brarimarg on the Baltal route of the annual pilgrimage, the police official said.
The police informed that a 60-year-old pilgrim from Gujarat, Naniben Parma, died due to cardiac arrest at the Panjtarni base camp last evening, adding that the body was taken to the Baltal base camp for further legal proceedings. With this, the death toll in this year's yatra has gone up to 10.
Among the pilgrims who died on the Kailash – Mansarovar route, one is from Tamil Nadu. Of the 29 pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, who had embarked on the pilgrimage in the Tibet region of China, one died of ill health, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said. A 69-year-old man identified as Ramachandran could not complete his journey and upon return died owing to breathlessness. His body was kept in a Kathmandu hospital
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the defence would offer assistance whenever necessary to rescue the 1,500 Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims stranded in Nepal.
“The External Affairs Ministry is working to rescue the pilgrims as soon as possible. The Defence ministry will also offer its support whenever necessary,” Sitharaman said.
In a series of tweets, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said about 525 pilgrims are stranded in Simikot, 550 in Hilsa and another 500 are stuck in the Tibet side, adding India has requested the Nepal government for army helicopters to evacuate them.
Nearly 100 Indian pilgrims were on Wednesday evacuated, as authorities stepped up efforts to rescue those stranded in Nepal's mountainous region due to heavy rain while returning from the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage in Tibet.
Five commercial flights and one Nepal Army chopper operated, transporting 96 Indian stranded pilgrims from Simikot to Surkhet. On the Hilsa-Simikot route, three Nepal Army choppers operated, the Indian Embassy said.
Around 250 of the over 1,500 Indian pilgrims stranded were evacuated safely from Hilsa till Tuesday. While Hilsa is extremely infrastructure lean, Simikot has decent boarding, communication and medical facilities, it had
A total of 158 people were evacuated on Tuesday from Simikot to Nepalganj, which is a fairly big city with all modern facilities and three hours to Lucknow by road.
Two pilgrims -- Leela Narayanan Mandredath, 56, of Kerala and Satya Laxmi of Andhra Pradesh -- died on Monday due to high altitude sickness in Simikot and heart attack in Tibet respectively, the Indian Embassy had said.
Their bodies were brought by special helicopters to Kathmandu and Nepalganj respectively, it said in a statement.
Tenzin Norbu Lama, the managing director of Sunny Travels and Treks, one of the major tour operators handling the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, said Indian pilgrims were stranded as the air transport links were cut off due to bad weather but there were no problems in food and accommodation.
"However, mountain areas lack proper medical facilities in the event of pilgrims suffering from altitude sickness due to their prolonged stay in the region," Lama was quotes as saying by the local media. (Written with PTI reports from Chennai, Srinagar, Kathmandu and New Delhi)